In Bloom

imageOver the weekend, my backdoor garden has come into bloom.

Except for a bit of weeding (which I, sadly, rarely get to), this garden is self-sustaining, filled with perennials, many of them gifted to me by my dear father before he died. The tea roses are from cuttings he brought from the Homestead (originally brought there from his mother’s tea roses in Massachusetts). My Grandma Reed died the summer before I was born, but I feel like I “know” her a little through the stories my father told me about her quiet, intelligent nature, her inventive and hearty cooking, and her beautiful flower gardens.

The iris are quintessentially my father: he loved this kind of large, colorful – and some scented – iris. These are all gifts from him, with his favorite being what he called the “blue and whites” that are in the foreground. I feature one, even, in my family-life-love-loss-hope-filled novel Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven.

We spoke many times about the mysteries of life, the Universe, energies, and what the afterlife might hold. I detail some of those conversations and thoughts in the novel as well – but I like to think that the tangible  beauty of this garden speaks to that in a different way. It blooms every year, all on its own, bringing joy, a feast for the senses, and happy memories that keep uplifting emotions and treasured people in the forefront of my thoughts.

And it reminds me yet again that love might change form, but it never truly dies.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I always enjoy my Irish heritage…but what I enjoy almost as much is the way anyone can be “Irish for a day” on Saint Patrick’s Day!

When considering the mix of all the cultures that make up many second or third generation Americans – and especially when focusing on those that compose my biological inheritance – I’ve always viewed the Irish part of me as one of the more happy-go-lucky, warm and welcoming parts. ❤

This video is a happy memory for me from childhood…not just of Bing but also of my sweet, 3/4 Irish mother singing this song in her lilting and pretty voice in the kitchen (often while making her famous Irish soda bread, the recipe of which she’d learned from her own Ireland-born Grandma Katherine O’Halleran who hailed from County Tipperary).

Perhaps it’s also my penchant for lush imagery in poetry or lyrics, particularly nature-based imagery, that makes me love this and so many Celtic songs.

And now, I’ll leave you with a little Irish Blessing. 🙂

“May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.”

Cozy Nights

cozyI love this illustration. It’s from the children’s book The Snatchabook, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, published in 2013.

It captures those magical possibilities that always delighted me as a child, when I’d imagine little homes in the woods where all the animals lived, snug and secure. In my mind’s eye there were tiny, warm beds covered in puffy patchwork quilts, and Mama animals of all sorts reading their babies bedtime stories in their cozy little rooms.

I’m ordering the book for my granddaughter, for when she’s older. Maybe her imagination will be sparked, too.

SnitzelAnother favorite – Mr. Snitzel’s Cookies by Jane Flory, for its magical elements of a never-ending supply of baking ingredients for cookies, cakes, and other delights, all earned from the simple act of being kind and offering a meal and a warm bed to a stranger in need.

November days like today – a little raw, gray, and rainy – bring out these nostalgic memories. I happen to enjoy this kind of day…much easier for me to get cozy in it, than in the blazing (though still beautiful) sun of summer. 🙂

How about you? Any favorite books from your childhood that sparked your imagination?

Halloween Memories

Halloween in the 1984

This was done my first year at college, when I came home on break…

Reminiscing Halloweens past, and the decorating we used to do at the Homestead with all homemade materials.  All the pictures in this post are from the 80’s (as the clothing and hairstyles will attest, LOL)!

Ma with pumpkinCutting jack-o-lanterns with Pa and Ma. Ma is having a bit of fun with her pumpkin. 🙂

Pa and Mary with pumpkin

Admiring the finished products with Pa

pumpkin and mary

And finally, sitting atop the little shelter Pa built for us to stand in while we waited for the school bus at the end of our long driveway…sharing the space with a giant pumpkin Pa grew, and a little orange cat he and Ma took in.

Happy Halloween!

Cozy Imaginings

I suppose the fact that I have a vivid and active imagination isn’t a big surprise. Most fictions writers do.

One of the ways my imagination works often results in a kind of fun game. It’s something I’ve done since I was a little kid, and I’d have to amuse myself as we drove back and forth from shopping or one of the many activities I or my six sisters participated in.

0_6730f_ddb9f7d9_origIt can be triggered by something as simple as seeing a charming house like this one on the left, with its windows lit warmly from within…

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Or driving by an historic and lovely library…

pg304-6543Hill-304Or spotting a cozy home when I’m driving in the around town or in the country…

Without much effort, I can create an entire story in my mind about the people who live or work there.

Sometimes even a bend in the road makes a scene blossom, shifting my thoughts to a more personal connection. At those times, I often feel a sense of longing or nostalgia and a vision of what my own life might be like in the imagined setting.

Almost like an alternative reality daydream.

This happened to me a couple weeks ago, on my drive to work. I saw a road curving off to the left , the leaves of the trees on either side brilliant and lit with the morning sun, and the farmer’s fields all around warm in the glow.

It’s a road I’ve seen many times before, but the angle when I looked at it, or perhaps the way the sun dappled the leaves, set off the imaginative machine inside me.  I didn’t stop to snap a photo that day, because (as is usual) I had no extra time to spare in getting to work.

imageBut I stopped to take this picture on the left a day later.

The atmosphere had changed…it was misty that morning, and far less golden as the sun slowly rose, but it inspired me nonetheless.

I could suddenly picture a cozy home499b724fb9ca8231ab5f5765ef4366e1 (like this one on the right, perhaps)  just out of sight down the road and imagine living in it – only not the real me, but a fictional me, from the alternate reality, where I live out in the country, like when I was young. In this world, I am a homebody, gardening, baking, and wandering around outdoors, rather than going to work every day and busy with a multitude of tasks, chores, and responsibilities I have to accomplish.

It’s a pleasant fiction, and it makes my heart pang for a second.

Okay…so I’m ready to hear from you – am I odd to have imaginings like this, or can any of you relate (whether or not you’re a writer)? Please let me know in the comments. I promise I can handle it if you think I’m just odd, LOL. 🙂

Happy Friday – and Happy Night Before Halloween!

Autumn Sunrise

imageIt was a gorgeous morning coming into work today.

I took a slightly different route than usual, and so I was on a stretch of road that allowed me to see the sun peeping over the edge of the horizon like a panoramic postcard.

imageThe rest of the ride was filled with similarly gorgeous sights, as the golden rays lit up the orange, russet, and yellow leaves of the trees across the field…

imageOr next to the road…

imageI love the dark line, showing that the sun hasn’t quite gotten high enough to clear the edge of the hill and beam its light on the entire vista.

imageAnd then as I pulled into the school’s parking lot, I was greeted with even more beauty. These trees and the playing field are also visible from my classroom windows, up on the third floor of the building.

Today was one of those days reminding me how blessed I am to live where I do.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

Weekend Enjoyments

imageIt was a great weekend, weather-wise, in Upstate New York (at least for me, since I enjoy chilly, sunny weather…add the colors of the foliage, and I’m a happy gal).

Some of the enjoyments included…

imageSpending some outdoor time with our English shepherd, Cassie. Because we live in “city” limits (and there is no dog park), she has to be on a leash, but when I can I try to bring her to places where she can run without it and play with some other dog “friends”.

imageWhen we’re inside, she’s partial to lounging on her dog bed, in a nice, cozy corner of the kitchen. She keeps me company and is often my “shadow” around the house when I’m there.

imageShe’s a loveable girl, five years old, and if there is a stick in the vicinity, she’ll find it and try to run with it (even if it’s larger than she is!) 🙂

imageAnother enjoyment this weekend was the rare opportunity (because of time constraints) to go to our local market co-op for an hour with my younger daughter. It has all sorts of organic goods, fresh produce – even an art gallery and handmade wares. And there is a coffee shop, featuring their own roasted coffee beans, teas, and a selection of baked goods. My daughter got a hot chocolate, but I opted for the house specialty – an “Adirondack” latte, with the shop-roasted coffee and a splash of real maple syrup. It was delicious! Our snacks were a scone and a croissant (which was still warm).

We did some autumn decorating around the house…but I’ll do a separate post about that. ❤

How was your weekend?